Swollen Lymph Nodes behind the Ear: 10 Causes and Treatments

Swollen lymph nodes behind ear

What Does It Mean When You Have Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind Ear?

Lymph nodes are bean-shaped glands present throughout the body. They store the fluid and nutrients and help in flushing out the waste from the body. Lymph nodes produce antibodies which fight off infections and foreign bodies.

When the nodes accumulate foreign substances, they swell and get enlarged. Swollen lymph nodes can be a scary thing. Swollen lymph nodes behind the ears can be just as scary because they are usually associated with a health issue.

A swollen lymph node behind your ear could be caused by many things. In fact, there are 10 specific causes of swollen lymph nodes behind the ear.


What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes Behind the Ear?

What causes swollen lymph nodes behind the ears? There are a number of causes of swollen glands behind the ear.

A lump behind the ear is caused by a range of issues including infections, acute or blunt force injuries, autoimmune disorders, cancer, German measles, an abscessed tooth, an allergic reaction, influenza or rhino viruses, strep throat, or lipoma.

1. Infections

Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections like mononucleosis can cause a lump behind the ear. Lymph nodes produce antibodies to fight the infections and as more antibodies are produced the lymph nodes swell.

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2. Acute or Blunt Force Injuries

Swelling behind the ear can be a result of a blow behind the ear. Also, accident or injury to the head or neck will cause swelling behind the ears due to the accumulation of antibodies.

3. Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders like lupus or Hashimoto’s disease can cause enlarged lymph nodes behind the ear. Autoimmune diseases breakdown the immune system causing swelling behind the ear.

4. Cancer

Lumps behind the ear can be due to cancerous tumors that can lead to lymphoma or leukemia. Because cancer cells are foreign bodies, they accumulate in the nodes.

5. German Measles

Rubella virus causes a viral infection known as German measles. The virus causes swollen lymph nodes behind the ear.

6. Tooth Abscess

An abscess is a pocket that forms around the tooth allowing germs and pus to gather in the pocket. The germs and pus are objects foreign to the body which causes swollen lymph nodes behind the ear.

7. An Allergic Reaction

Allergies, often experienced during the spring when pollen counts are high, can cause swollen lymph nodes behind the ear. Allergens are also foreign substances to the body which may accumulate in the nodes causing swelling behind the ear.

8. Influenza A or B and Rhino Virus

Influenza A or B also known as the flu and Rhino virus also known as the common cold can cause a lump behind the ear.

As your body fights these viruses, the immune system gets inflamed as it produces increased amounts of white blood cells which accumulate in your lymph nodes causing swollen lymph nodes behind the ear.

9. Strep Throat

Strep throat is common in children and spreads from child to child through crawling on a dirty floor or sharing infected toys. Streptococcus bacteria gather in the throat and as the body fights the bacteria. White blood cells and antibodies accumulate in the lymph nodes causing swollen glands behind the ear.

10. Lipoma

A lipoma is a fatty lump forming in between layers of skin and can occur anywhere throughout the body. A lipoma can be a lump behind your ear and is not associated with your lymph system.


Associated Symptoms of Swollen Lymph Nodes behind the Ear

It is important for you to notice symptoms associated with swollen lymph nodes behind the ear. Below are some of the symptoms:

  • Tender to touch or painful glands.
  • An increased body temperature due to infection.
  • Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing.
  • Warmth or redness of the area surrounding the lymph nodes.
  • A runny nose or a sore throat indicating an infection of upper respiratory tract can be present with enlarged lymph nodes behind the ear.

A lump which is painless with no other symptoms is probably a lipoma. It is important for you to consult your physician if any of these symptoms don’t go away or worsen.


How to Treat Swollen Lymph Nodes behind the Ear?

Treatment for swelling behind the ears depends on the cause. It is very important that you follow-up with your physician to know the appropriate treatment. Swollen lymph node behind the ear treatments include:

  • Antibiotics should be used if the cause of your swollen lymph nodes behind the ear is bacterial infections. Please keep in mind that antibiotics are not effective to treat viruses and if viral infections are the cause of your swollen lymph nodes behind the ear, then you should avoid antibiotics.
  • Allergic reactions can be treated with anti-histamines and anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Pain killers may be used to relieve pain, after consulting your physician.

Home remedies to treat swollen lymph nodes:

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  • A warm, wet cloth put on the area can help relieve pain.
  • Pain from swollen lymph nodes behind the ear can be relieved with advil, aspirin, or tylenol.
  • Rest is always recommended when you feel run down, or your immune system is compromised.
  • Fungus and bacteria can be treated with a daily glass of apple cider vinegar.
  • Swollen lymph nodes behind the ear can be treated with gargling turmeric in water or salt water.
  • Cysts or abscesses can be treated using tea tree oil. Simply soak a Q-tip in tea tree oil and apply it to the area for a few minutes. Wash with oil-free soap immediately following the application.
  • Castor oil’s penetrating properties can help. Massage the lump behind the ear with castor oil.

When to See a Doctor?

Enlarged lymph node behind the ear isn’t serious, and your body can take care of it. While an emergency room visit is not necessary, you should visit your doctor if you experience:

  • Painful or tender lump
  • Pain while moving your head or neck
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • The lump spreads or grows
  • Inflamed or redness around the area of the lump
  • The area ruptures of begins leaking pus
  • Hard or irregular lumps, or fixed position of the lump
  • Symptoms become worse over time.

You should opt for some home remedies to treat swollen lymph node behind the ear. If the home remedies fail to relieve you in few days then it is essential to consult the doctor to know the exact cause.


Sources:
“8 Causes of Swollen and Painful Lymph Nodes Behind the Ear,” https://www.enkiverywell.com/lymph-nodes-behind-ear.html
“Sore Throat and Ear Pain: Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, 6 Home Remedies,” https://www.epainassist.com/earache-or-ear-pain/swollen-lymph-nodes-behind-ears

James Concato

James Concato

James Concato is a Hospital Administrator in the Chicagoland area. He has been in healthcare for more than 25 years. He holds a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration from Quinnipiac University and has worked in or lead many different departments. Writing on cancer treatment and cancer prevention through natural treatments is his passion. James, like many others, has had family members pass away from cancer and he knows that Cancer screening is the key to better outcomes. As an administrator of different physician practices like Pediatrics, Surgery, Anesthesia, and Oncology James brings a wealth of knowledge to his writing. James is interested in educating the public through his writing.